Beyond Survival: Building on the Hard Times - a POW's Inspiring Story

Beyond Survival: Building on the Hard Times - a POW's Inspiring Story

by Gerald Coffee
Beyond Survival: Building on the Hard Times - a POW's Inspiring Story

Beyond Survival: Building on the Hard Times - a POW's Inspiring Story

by Gerald Coffee


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When life loses its meaning, when suddenly the world is turned upside down, when there's nothing left that resembles life as we've known it, where do we find the strength and sustenance to go on? For naval aviator Jerry Coffee and others who were held as prisoners of war in North Vietnam, there was only one choice: to go within.

Beyond Survival is a journey into the invincible human spirit that unites heart and mind in a compelling and unforgettable experience. Drawing from his seven years as a POW, Captain Coffee provides timeless lessons that apply to the physical, emotional, and ethical challenges of everyday life. Proving that leadership and creativity are possible in difficult and uncertain circumstances, Captain Coffee offers a message we can draw on in any trying situation. His story demonstrates that conviction must come from within, and in telling that story he touches the place inside of us where growth begins.

Beyond Survival is a positive statement about love and commitment in the midst of war and division. It contrasts the cold reality of war, degradation, and torture with the warmth of human connections, inner serenity, and kinship with all of life. It poignantly illustrates that to be stripped of everything that is familiar and by which we identify ourselves leaves us with only what unites us - our human identity. It conveys truths about relationships at every level - with ourselves, with others, with our country, and with our God.

Without inflaming the wounds inflicted by America's involvement in Vietnam, Beyond Survival explores an issue at the heart of every free society: the willingness of ordinary individuals to maintain a passion for freedom so compelling that adversity strengthens rather than weakens personal resolve in the worst of circumstances. Through Gerald Coffee's story you will discover the universal principles of survival and triumph that empower anyone to overcome adversity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781613395011
Publisher: Made For Success Publishing
Publication date: 11/20/2013
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 338
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Gerald Coffee, considered one of the nation’s top speakers, addresses scores of audiences each year, including many prestigious business and leadership groups. Born in Modesto, California, he joined the Navy in 1957 after graduation from UCLA with a major in business administration. After returning from Vietnam, he received his master’s degree in political science and then attended the esteemed National Defense University in Washington, D.C. Captain Coffee has earned many military awards and decorations, including the Silver Star, as well as numerous civilian awards. Retired from the Navy since 1985, he now lives in Hawaii.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Jerry and I lived in the same cell for the last 31/2 years we were in prison. We developed a pretty good kinship because Jerry was raised in Modesto, California and I was raised in Salinas just over the hill from Modesto. He was the ‘Modesto Flash’ and I was the ‘Salinas Streak.’ We actually developed these code names because someday if we had had to revert to passing messages in code again, it would be from Flash to Streak. Fortunately things never got that bad again. Jerry was a joy to live with. I never met a more even tempered individual or bigger optimist than Jerry. He was also somewhat of a visionary with a Bohemian streak. A wonderful artist, he tried to teach me how to paint in prison, which I failed at miserably. He also wrote poetry in his head and recited it. (In fact, I am a product of the Jerry Coffee international toastmasters Hanoi Chapter.) Every once in a while Jerry would sit back against the wall and come back to the same theme about the future. He’d say, “Ev, you know someday we’re going to go home and people back home aren’t going to understand what we’ve been through. It’s going to be so hard to conceive. And there’s a message here, a message we need to tell.” I didn’t grasp the full meaning of what he was saying for a long while, but it finally came. Jerry has mastered the ability to articulate the essence of the experience and those values and principles that are our legacy: honor, commitment, sacrifice, integrity, and faith. Nobody tells this story better than Jerry Coffee. I can’t tell you how many times - all over the country - I run into people who say, “Do you know this fellow Jerry Coffee?”, because they’ve just been somewhere and heard him speak. And I say, sure I know him, and they go “Wow! Boy, he blew our socks off. He’s tremendous.”

~Everett Alvarez, Commander, U.S. Navy (Ret.),
longest held Vietnam POW 8-5-64 – 2-12-73,
Deputy Director, Peace Corps; Deputy Director,
Veterans Administration; founder, Alvarez and Associates

“My dear friend Jerry Coffee is a man I’ve become as close to as practically anyone I’ve ever known. It would be very difficult for me to describe all Jerry’s achievements from the Cuban Missile Crisis to his bravery and courage in the Vietnam conflict. I will just say that in prison after the treatment had improved rather dramatically I had the great fun and privilege of living in the same cell with him for a couple of years. I think I found his company a lot more agreeable than he found mine, given my always even-tempered, unemotional approach to things. And although Jerry is a lousy bridge player, I have never known a more kind and generous American. I am very proud that for so many years he has traveled the country giving inspirational talks to people from all walks of life and every strata of America - not only because he has a compelling story but because of his particular fashion of describing the attributes associated with duty, honor, and our country.”

~John McCain, Captain, U.S. Navy (Ret.);
Vietnam POW 10/26/67 - 3/14/73;
United States Senator, Arizona, 1986 – present

“I have always had this unusual fetish for movies about prisoners of war. In Stalag 17, I was fascinated by how the prisoners in Europe found ways to entertain themselves. After the Sontay raid in 1970 we were finally allowed to be assembled together. I had the privilege of getting to know Jerry Coffee in early 1972. Room 2 held a group of reprobates about 25 strong. By this time, we’d been there five, six, seven years and were pretty cynical about life. The torture had mostly stopped and we were just twiddling our thumbs waiting for the big bombing raids to happen so we could imagine going home someday in the next decade. Then Jerry, who was quite a bit more high-classed than the rest of us, was brought into our midst. There were a number of Marines in the room. John McCain was there, too. We were all groping for ways to entertain ourselves. So Jerry moved in and we discovered he had talents as an artist. After that, he spent hours teaching me and a couple of other rather dumb, uncreative people to draw things using rouge colored roof tile [like chalk] on a concrete floor. Jerry taught me how to draw eyeballs, my specialty. I haven’t pursued that career, but at least he brought some creativity into my life. Jerry Coffee is an incredible individual and eloquent speaker. I honestly believe I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about him. He is a wonderful, wonderful man I am incredibly blessed to have as a friend.”

~Orson Swindle, Lt. Col., USMC (Ret.);
Vietnam POW 11/11/66 – 3/4/73;
Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission, 1997-2005

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